480 million animals are feared to have died in the bushfires sweeping
Australia, including nearly a third of the koalas in New South
Wales's main habitat.
at the University of Sydney estimate around 480 million mammals,
birds and reptiles have been killed, directly or indirectly, by the
devastating blazes since they began in September, The Times reported.
includes almost 8,000 koalas, which are believed to have burnt to
death on the state’s mid-north coast.
region, which lies around 240 miles north of Sydney, is home to the
largest number of Australia’s koalas, with a population of up to
environment minister Sussan Ley told ABC "up to 30 per cent of
the population in that region" may have been killed, because
around 30 per cent of their habitat has been destroyed.
know more when the fires have calmed down and a proper assessment can
be made,” she added.
people have died and hundreds of homes have been razed to the ground
during the unprecedented bushfire season.
four million hectares have been burnt in New South Wales alone.
well as being one of Australia's most populous koala habitats, the
mid-north coast region also houses one of the country's main koala
workers at the The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital reportedly treated
72 badly burnt animals on Christmas Day.
were brought in after bushfires destroyed up to three quarters of
their habitat, according to the clinical director Cheyne Flanagan.
have teams on roster for capture if any are in trouble and they are
available 24 hours a day,” she told Reuters.
Gofundme page for the hospital has received more than £1.6million
($2million AUD) since September - the largest single amount raised on
the site in Australian history, website Newshub reported.
to Mark Graham, an ecologist with the Nature Conservation Council,
koalas “have no capacity to move fast enough to get away” from
fires that spread from treetop to treetop.
fires have burnt so hot and so fast that there has been significant
mortality of animals in the trees, but there is such a big area now
that is still on fire and still burning that we will probably never
find the bodies,” Mr Graham told a New South Wales parliamentary
inquiry earlier this month.
lost such a massive swathe of known koala habitat that I think we can
say without any doubt there will be ongoing declines in koala
populations from this point forward.”
scorched regions include nature reserves in the Greater Blue
Mountains World Heritage Area and parts of the Gondwana rainforests —
which have existed since the time of the dinosaurs and are the most
extensive area of subtropical rainforest in the world.